10 things about… the Scottish Deerhound
The Scottish Deerhound is one of the breeds with the largest genealogic history as it existed before the Christian era. It is a big dog, robust and with a rough coat suitable for the low temperature and rainy Scottish weather.
Initially it was a game and deer hunter in the Highlands, then he became unbeatable as a hare hunter and, today, it’s a perfect family dog, loving and calm, that requires a life in places with large open-air areas to run and jump.
1- History: The Scottish Deerhound has a background as a noble hunter. His character, as rough as his coating (sometimes it was known as rough greyhound) caused amazement in the Scottish Highlands. Its genealogic tree is impressive: his ancestors were enormous hirsute dogs that accompanied the Celts that spread across Scotland and Ireland from V and II B.C. They were quite famous during the Medium Age as they represented the more impressive section of the hounds. Until XIX century it was difficult to distinguish the Scottish from the Irish hounds.
2- The breed was near to extinction due to the progressive lack of deers, game, and even wolves, in those areas. The breed was saved thanks to Duncan McNeil, Lord Colonsay, who started a strict breeding program in 1820 that was followed up by his son Archibald McNeil. In this way, they recovered the breed completely. Indeed, that period is known as “Colonsay’s renaissance”
3- Queen Victoria was this breed’s most famous admirer. That enabled the breed to officially become a member of the canine aristocracy. The Scottish Deerhound Club was founded in 1891 and they drew up the first standard for the breed in 1892. This was registered by the Kennel Club in 1901 and later reviewed in 1970. You can check the standard here.
4- Scottish breeds have striven to preserve his hunting qualities and thus they periodically organise “coursings” of deerhounds with hares. These coursings are carried out in mountainous areas, so the dogs must have a robust body and a high resistance to run on the difficult terrain. However, today it is a marginal event, as deerhound has become essentially a family and exhibition dog.
5- Behaviour, character and education: they are very calm and friendly, and are one of the quietest dogs. They can behave delicately and discretely, and rarely bark or bite. They are quite shy with unknown people and hence usually keep their distance. They are very warm and loving for their owner and have excellent relationships with children. They love playing with them and can be very gentle. They also behave well towards other dogs. They are not aggressive and if other dogs have a good character too, they will invite them to play “catch me up if you can”. Having several deerhounds would not be a problem as they are not jealous dogs and cohabit well.
6- Education: easy to educate and obey well.
7- Needs and cares: they are calm at home, love comfort and having naps, but they also need some space. It is not advisable to keep them in a flat or urban area. They require a large garden where they can run and jump to release energy and exercise their body.
8- Physique: a very rustic and resistant dog. They have a robust skeleton and a strong musculature. The coat is rough and thick, which protects them from rain and the cold. It’s around 7 to 10 cm long. Its colour is dark blue grey.
9- Weight and height:
Males: minimum desirable height up to the withers: 76 cm. Approximate weight: 45.5 Kg
Females: minimum desirable height up to the withers: 76 cm. Approximate weight: 36.5 Kg
10- Lifespan: 12 to 14 years